Funny veggie names tops with kids: study

11/7/2012

What sounds more appealing: carrots or "X-Ray Vision Carrots"?

For kids, it's the latter, according to study by Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne, and Matthew Klinger who studied whether a simple change like adjusting a name would influence kid’s consumption of vegetables.

In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into “X-ray Vision Carrots," and 147 students ranging from 8-11 years old from five ethnically and economically diverse schools participated in tasting the cool new foods.

Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. On the first and last days, carrots remained unnamed; on the second day, the carrots were served as either “X-ray Vision Carrots” or “Food of the Day.”

Researchers found that the amount eaten by the kids was impacted by the three different naming conditions.

By changing the carrots to “X-ray vision carrots”, a whopping 66 per cent were eaten, compared to the the 32 per cent eaten when labelled “Food of the Day”;  and 35 per cent eaten when unnamed.

In the second study, carrots became “X-Ray vision carrots,” broccoli was renamed “Power Punch Broccoli” or “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans” replaced green beans. Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighbouring New York City suburban schools.

During the first month, both schools offered unnamed food items, while on the second month carrots, broccoli and green beans were given the more attractive names in only one of the schools.

At the school with the attractive vegetable names, purchases went up by 99 per cent, while in the other school vegetable sales declined by 16 per cent.

"These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid’s selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost," said the report. "Very importantly, these studies confirm that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age levels."

Watch video of Brian Wansink, one of the study's authors talking about the results:

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